EDF Health

Selected tag(s): Significant New Use Rule (SNUR)

Have we learned anything in the last 4 decades when it comes to allowing chemicals like PCBs onto the market?

Richard Denison, Ph.D.is a Lead Senior Scientist.  Stephanie Schwarz, J.D., is a Legal Fellow.

The Science section of today’s New York Times reports “Killer Whales Face Dire PCBs Threat” – more than four decades after Congress largely banned PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls).

Concentrations of the chemicals in the blubber of orcas living in waters off the coasts of industrialized countries remain high, and new research indicates the contamination presents an existential threat to the survival of these populations.

Reading the article brought to mind concerns we have raised in recent comments to EPA on proposed rules it has issued for new chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  Read More »

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The TSCA new chemicals mess: A problem of the chemical industry’s own making

Richard Denison, Ph.D.is a Lead Senior Scientist.

Nary a day goes by without a complaint being lodged by someone in the chemical industry, or in one of the myriad law firms that represent its interests in Washington, D.C., about the delays in EPA’s approval of new chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

Here’s the irony:  Those delays and the general chaos in the TSCA new chemicals program are entirely of the industry’s own making.   Read More »

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EPA needs to get its SNURs in order under TSCA

Stephanie Schwarz, J.D., is a Legal Fellow.  Richard Denison, Ph.D.is a Lead Senior Scientist.

On Friday EDF submitted comments to EPA on a batch of Significant New Use Rules (SNURs) the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published on August 1 pursuant to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

The SNURs relate to 145 new chemicals for which EPA had earlier issued consent orders that imposed certain conditions on the substances.  Those consent orders date back to when EPA was still pursuing the development of such orders for many new chemicals it reviewed, and prior to the recent “pivots” it has been making in an effort to avoid issuing orders by circumventing the requirements of the TSCA provisions governing new chemicals.

TSCA anticipates that EPA will promulgate SNURs to follow up on consent orders.  In fact, TSCA section 5(f)(4) requires that when EPA issues an order, EPA must either promulgate a SNUR or provide a statement explaining why EPA is not doing so.  And when EPA does promulgate such a SNUR, the SNUR must “identif[y] as a significant new use any manufacturing, processing, use, distribution in commerce, or disposal of the chemical substance that does not conform to the restrictions imposed by the … order.”

EDF strongly supports EPA’s use of SNURs to follow up on consent orders it issues.  That is because the order only applies to the original company that submitted a premanufacture notice (PMN) to EPA for a new chemical.  A proper SNUR then requires that company or any other company that seeks to deviate from the conditions in the order to first notify EPA, triggering a review of that “significant new use.”

While EDF supports EPA’s issuance of SNURs for these 145 new chemicals, our review of the proposed SNURs raised concerns, prompting us to file “adverse” comments.  Our comments raise two major concerns:

First, EPA has adopted an ad hoc testing policy in the direct final rule that does not comply with the requirements of TSCA, without sufficient explanation, and without providing any notice and opportunity for public comment on the policy. EPA needs to avoid adopting such an ad hoc policy.

Second, as noted above, TSCA (as well as EPA’s longstanding policy) requires SNURs to “conform” to the restrictions in the corresponding orders.  Yet we identified numerous inconsistencies between the orders and SNURs.  EPA must ensure that the final SNURs identify as a significant new use any activity that is not consistent with the restrictions in the corresponding consent orders.

See our comments for details.

NOTE:  EPA had published the SNURs both as a direct final rule and as a proposed rule, noting that if it received any adverse comments, it would withdraw the direct final rule and consider the comments received in the process of finalizing the proposed rule.  We expect EPA will now pursue this course.

Posted in EPA, Health Policy, Regulation, TSCA Reform / Also tagged | Comments are closed

PART 2: EPA rams through its reckless review scheme for new chemicals under TSCA, your health be damned

Richard Denison, Ph.D.is a Lead Senior Scientist.

Part 1               Part 2               Part 3

I blogged last week about how political appointees at EPA are starting to clear new chemicals to enter commerce based on a new – apparently unwritten and certainly not public – review process that ignores the law and will put the health of the public, workers and the environment at greater risk than even under the weak reviews conducted before Congress’ 2016 overhaul of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

In this post I’ll start to take a deeper look at the specific fragrance chemical that is the subject of EPA’s first decision under the new scheme:

Oxirane, 2-methyl-, polymer with oxirane, bis[2-[(1-oxo-2-propen-1-yl)amino]propyl] ether
CAS 1792208-65-1

Recall that, even as it declared the chemical safe, EPA noted its “potential for the following human health hazards: irritation, mutagenicity, developmental/ reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, and carcinogenicity.”  I’ll explore those hazard concerns more in a subsequent blog post.  Here, let’s consider use of and exposure to the chemical.

Here’s the thing:  None of the parameters of the intended use is binding.  They can be deviated from at any time without consequence.

With its decision, EPA has allowed this chemical to enter the market without any conditions whatsoever placed on how or how much of it can be produced or used or by whom.  This is in fact the aim of the new scheme and, barring another change in course, we can now expect this outcome for the great majority of new chemicals EPA reviews.  It will be achieved by EPA routinely making determinations that the chemicals are “not likely to present an unreasonable risk.”   Read More »

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Trump’s EPA pivots yet again on reviews of new chemicals under TSCA, leaving public and worker health in the dust

Richard Denison, Ph.D.is a Lead Senior Scientist.

EDF has learned from multiple sources that political appointees at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are on the verge of taking yet another huge lurch away from what the 2016 reforms to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) require when EPA reviews the safety of new chemicals prior to their market entry.  A reporter at Bloomberg Environment has heard the same thing, and published an article this morning on some of the changes.

The Trump EPA apparently intends to abandon its November 2017 “New Chemicals Decision-Making Framework,” which already strayed far from the law’s requirements.  That approach would have allowed EPA staff to limit their review of a new chemical only to the intended uses identified by its manufacturer, despite the law’s clear mandate that EPA consider known or reasonably foreseen, as well as intended, uses when conducting its review.  Under the framework, where EPA had concerns about reasonably foreseen but not intended uses – rather than issue an order as required by the law – EPA would take two other steps:  make a “not likely to present an unreasonable risk” determination for the chemical, clearing it to enter commerce; and issue a Significant New Use Rule (SNUR), which could trigger a separate, future review on any subsequently intended use, wholly divorced from the initial review.

Initially, EPA staff indicated the “not likely” finding would be made only once a final SNUR had been promulgated.  That then slipped to have issuance of the finding coincide with the proposal of the SNUR.  That then slipped further to allow the finding to be issued based on EPA’s mere intent to develop a SNUR.

Now, however, the Trump EPA plans to decouple completely its ability to issue a “not likely” finding from any dependency at all on promulgation of a SNUR.  How then, you might well ask, would EPA consider reasonably foreseen uses of a new chemical?  The short answer is, it won’t.   Read More »

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Too little, too fast: EDF comments raise numerous concerns with EPA’s proposal to expand use of a toxic chemical

Richard Denison, Ph.D.is a Lead Senior Scientist.

Last month EDF blogged about  our request to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to extend the illegally and unreasonably short 15-day comment period it had provided on a modification EPA is proposing to make to expand the ways a toxic chemical could be used, subject to certain conditions, without triggering any requirement to first notify EPA.  Specifically, EPA is proposing to modify the Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) applicable to the chemical – which currently limits its use to metalworking fluid – to allow the chemical also to be used as an anti-corrosive agent in in oilfield operations and hydraulic fluids.

Our request  also noted that EPA had failed to provide the public with anything approaching a complete set of documents relevant to its proposal.  For example, the public docket for the proposed modified SNUR lacked even a redacted copy of the Significant New Use Notice (SNUN) that triggered EPA’s consideration of the expanded use.

EPA’s proposal to amend the SNUR noted that, while EPA was expanding the allowable uses of the chemical, it was also proposing to impose additional conditions on the use.  These conditions were necessary, EPA argued, because of “test data on the substance and on new data regarding the expected release of formaldehyde from the substance, for skin and eye irritation, neurotoxicity, mutagenicity, oncogenicity, allergic responses, and developmental toxicity.”

Yet the docket did not include copies of these health and safety studies or the test data, despite being referred to in the proposal and in other documents that are in the docket.  As a reminder, such health and safety studies and their underlying data must be made public under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  And of course, access to them is crucial if the public is expected to comment on EPA’s proposal.

A few days before the end of the 15-day comment period, EPA did grant a 17-day extension.  It also added a copy of the SNUN to the docket.  But it failed to add any of the health and safety studies or associated data we had identified as missing.

The comment period ended yesterday, and despite the serious time constraint and information gaps, EDF filed these extensive comments last night.  In preparing our comments, however, we found that the amount of health and safety data EPA had failed to provide is even greater than we had originally thought.  And our concerns over the adequacy of EPA’s review of this new proposed use and of the conditions it proposes to include in the modified SNUR have only grown.   Read More »

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